Democracy Dispatch

Vermont Conservation Voters’ Political Outreach Director, Justin Marsh, hosts a weekly conversation with legislators, energy and climate leaders, and environmental champions.

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Monday Mar 06, 2023

Move over, Rihanna. We've got our own Halftime Show!
With the legislature on break for Town Meeting Day, it seemed like the opportune time to sit down with Lauren Hierl, executive director, Vermont Conservation Voters, to discuss the policy priorities outlined in the 2023 Environmental Common Agenda and provide a progress report on each. 
We update you on the latest surrounding the Affordable Heat Act, the Renewable Energy Standard, transportation affordability, environmental justice funding, smart growth housing, the 30x30 land conservation initiative, rivers, wetlands, and riparian area protections, PFAS, the updated bottle bill, and ranked choice voting.

Monday Feb 27, 2023

Only in his second term, Rep. Dane Whitman (D-Bennington) has already become a leader in policy banning harmful PFAS and toxic "forever" chemicals from several items, earning him VCV's Rising Star Award in 2022. In this episode, he shares why PFAS are of concern to Vermonters and particularly the Bennington region, and outlines the next wave to further ban toxics from more consumer products. Later, he outlines other important priorities his committee is taking up this biennium as we approach crossover.
Our deep dive conversation with VNRC's Kati Gallagheroutlines smart growth housing policies. 

Monday Feb 20, 2023

Rep. Saudia LaMont (D-Morristown) speaks about her experience as a freshman legislator and how the reality of serving differed from her perception while campaigning. She discusses the weight she carries representing several different identities in a mostly homogenous state, including being the third Black woman to serve Vermont, and what keeps her doing this work for her community. Later, she shares her advice for folks contemplating running for office. Spoiler alert: she thinks you should run! Sen. Rebecca White (D-Windsor) talks with us about two separate bills in two separate committees she serves on - the Affordable Heat Act and ranked choice voting. She outlines the importance of both policies for Vermonters, shares insights on some of the testimony her committees have heard, and the next steps for the bills.

Monday Feb 13, 2023

Rep. Amy Sheldon (D-Middlebury) has been active in several House committees where Act 250 is in the spotlight. In 2017, she was appointed as chair of the Commission on Act 250. In this episode, she breaks down the complicated relationship Vermonters have - both appreciation and opposition of Act 250, what changes need to be made, and what the future of the law looks like. 
Rep. Kristi Morris (D-Springfield) outlines the proposed expansion of Vermont's Bottle Bill. Plus: updates on Affordable Heat Act, Transportation Affordability Act, and more.

Monday Feb 06, 2023

Sen. Becca White (D-Windsor), Rep. Jay Hooper (D-Randolph), and Rep. Lucy Boyden (D-Cambridge) discuss their experiences as legislators in the 20's. The three reflect on ageism both on the campaign trail and in the state house, the difficulties of serving as a young person, as well as why their voices matter.
Rep. Larry Satcowitz (D-Randolph) walks through the 30x30 land conservation bill.
Lauren and Justin give updates on the Affordable Heat Act, Smart Growth Housing, and the Transportation Affordability Act.

Monday Jan 30, 2023

Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D/P-Chittenden Southeast) takes a look back at the environmental justice legislation that inspired her to run for the state legislature over 15 years ago. She explains the importance of equity in the conversation about the environment and climate, as well as the progress that has been made, and where work still needs to happen. 
Lauren Hierl has a conversation with Sen. Ginny Lyons (D-Chittenden Southeast) around toxics legislation that would remove PFAS and other harmful chemicals from products like shampoo, lotion, and other cosmetics.
We share the news that Rep. Kate Donnally (D-Hyde Park) has stepped down from her role in the statehouse and give updates on progress around the Affordable Heat Act, housing equity, land conservation, and more.

Monday Jan 23, 2023

Justin has a conversation with Rep. Elizabeth Burrows (D/P - West Windsor) about her proposed bill that would make state-owned and managed trails more physically accessible. She speaks candidly about the limitations of serving for differently-abled legislators. Lauren chats with Rep. Seth Bongartz (D-Manchester) for our deep dive conversation about a bill to expand smart growth housing.
Lauren joins for the session shakedown segment, covering insight from the week prior (the Governor's budget address, the Climate Solutions Caucus's walk-through of the Affordable Heat Act, and housing bills in both chambers) and what's planned for the week ahead in the Vermont State House.

Monday Jan 16, 2023

Justin speaks with Susan Clark about her contributions to Freedom and Unity: A Graphic Guide to Civics and Democracy in Vermont, recently published as a collaboration between The Center for Cartoon Studies, Vermont’s Secretary of State office, and Vermont Humanities Council. Here in Vermont, freedom isn’t a free-for-all and unity doesn’t mean uniformity. From Town Meetings to cooperatives, and all the way up to the state house, Vermont’s approach to democracy is by turns unique, varied, and inspired.
Lauren Hierl catches up with Senator Anne Watson (D/P-Washington) for our deep dive conversation about the Affordable Heat Act, just moments after the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee reviewed the new proposed legislation.
Lauren joins for the session shakedown segment, covering the week prior and the week ahead in the Vermont State House.

Monday Jan 09, 2023

Guest Representative Taylor Small (P/D-Winooski) talks about the Winooski Dome Proposal Project of 1979, a PFAS bill set to be taken up this session, and climate priorities for her city. Lauren Hierl catches up with Middlebury Representative Amy Sheldon for our deep dive conversation outlining her priorities for the new biennium as chair of the restructured House Environment and Energy Committee. Lauren joins for the session shakedown segment, covering the week prior and the week ahead in the Vermont State House. 

Sunday Jan 08, 2023

Welcome to the Democracy Dispatch podcast, hosted by Justin Marsh, political outreach director at Vermont Conservation Voters. Justin will be joined every Monday with folks from their team as they update you on the latest happenings in the Vermont State House, speak with legislators, environmental allies, go deeper on some policy initiatives, and sit down with special guests to discuss topics affecting our air, water, open space, and quality of life.


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